Archive for June 2010
29 June 2010
NAGPUR: The National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) has expressed deep concern over health and environmental hazards caused due to ship breaking at Alang in Gujarat and other places in the country.
The premier national agency has said that the ship breaking industry has not only affected the local environment but also the health of workers engaged in the process.
“There are various harmful factors associated with ship breaking as asbestos, poly chlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), lead, chromite, mercury, fumes of welding and cuffing, radiation and off course noise, vibrations and air pollution,” Acting Director, NEERI, Dr Tapan Chakrabarti said.
Other harmful materials include battery, compressed gas cylinders, organic and firefighting liquids. When these chemicals enter the environment, they not only pollute but also cause adverse health impacts, Chakrabarti said.
Some major health fall outs include breathing difficulties, lungs cancer (due to asbestos dust), anemia, nervous system (due to lead), eczema and respiratory diseases (due to chromium), lung and scrotum cancer besides cell damage.
Even burning of solid waste in the open causes may result in dioxins which poses threat to suppression of immune system in pre-natal and post-natal in children, he said………..
28 June 2010
MUMBAI: This Ganpati festival devotees may see a lot of eco-friendly idols, provided the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) certified process of idol-making becomes popular and good sense prevails among organisers.
After experimenting on various formulas to come up with eco-friendly idols for the past three years, Pramod Vitthal Palav, a sculptor from Kankavali in Sindhudurg, invented an idol manufacturing process by mixing clay with fig tree juice, paper and glue. This product dissolves in water in less than 15 minutes.
“Plaster of Paris (POP) idols float on water surface and increase pollution,” said Palav.
Palav sent his idol for testing to the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) from where it was sent to NEERI.
The NEERI certified it after testing the manufacturing process and the ingredients used. Now, the MPCB has decided to promote this experiment by holding a one-day conference with local sculptors and government officials.
Despite the environmental advantages, shadu mati or clay is not preferred because it makes the idols very heavy……….
28 June 2010
PUNE: Thanks to an education system that encourages little out-of-the-box thinking, complex scientific theories often elude school children. Anu Raghunathan, a scientist at the National Chemical Laboratory, seems to have found a way out. Raghunathan interacted with around 85 schoolchildren at the National Chemical Laboratory on Sunday to initiate an easy approach towards science.
Raghunathan used cartoons of Mickey Mouse to explain the complex theories of evolution. “Just as Mickey Mouse has changed from the time Walt Disney created it in 1928 to the present Mickey that we know with bigger ears, eyes and head, we humans have changed from the time we started life on this planet,” she said.
“The education system today does not promote learning by questioning. It takes out all the fun that one can have while learning new concepts of science. School and textbooks train kids to think in a particular way. There is no scope for out-of-the-box thinking.”
She explained the processes of natural and artificial selection by referring to the process of selection of a sports team in a school, where those who perform well get to play and others are automatically dropped out. “This is artificial selection, while Darwin talks about natural selection, where species like the dinosaurs are eliminated if they are not able adapt themselves to the changing environment,” said Raghunathan.
Raghunathan emphasized the need of exploring the world and taking a closer look at things as well as questioning constantly.
Ashwini Gowdara, one of the participants who has been collecting leaves of various kinds from the age of 12, said, “It was interesting to know that Darwin also collected leaves, flowers, pebbles and even animal fossils.” A regular at the talks at the NCL, she feels it simplifies science lessons in school.
Nitin Shinde, a student of Class X, who later wants to become a microbiologist, shared his enthusiasm about this innovative process of learning, “This exercise urged us to go beyond the correct answer and ponder over why it is correct.”
Raghunathan also tried to engage students in discussions by asking them why they fall ill due to certain bacterial infections, but not after eating curd, which has lactic acid bacteria. She then introduced students to the concept of DNA sequencing.
Arvind Paranjape, a parent who attended the talk with his son, said, “The use of video footage to talk about three dimensional structures like DNA, RNA etc is meant to introduce children to such concepts. When we read about these topics in school, we were asked by our teachers to just mug up all this. At least this will not be the case with my son.”
26 June 2010
PANAJI: In a bid to enhance literacy levels in the state even further, the cabinet on Friday approved a scheme for literacy and vocational training for adults in Goa.
……..Preparation of transportation plan for Goa: The cabinet has also approved the government’s decision to appoint the Delhi-based central government organisation, Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), for the preparation of a short and long-term traffic and transportation plan for the state.
Kamat said the state government will pay Rs 60 lakh for the plan, of which Rs 30 lakh has already been released. The CRRI has also done a preliminary survey and is expected to present its short term plan within 6 months. The long-term plan is expected within one year, Kamat said.
To reduce road accidents in Goa, the CRRI is expected to cover several aspects such as parking, encroachments, footpath facilities, pedestrian behaviour and road markings and signages………
26 June 2010
HYDERABAD: A new study has established that long-term use of statins, cholesterol-lowering drugs, may lead to depression.
The study conducted in animal cells by Amitabha Chattopdhyay and his group at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) found that statins impact serotonin, a neurotransmitter in brain that helps to control mood and behaviour. It was found that long-term use of the drug caused significant changes in the structure and function of the serotonin receptors. Adding cholesterol to cells treated with statin restored the function of the receptor to normal levels.
The group’s publication establishing the link between chronic use of cholesterol-lowering statins and mood disorders was published in the journal Biochemistry, brought out by the American Chemical Society……..
24 June 2010
RANCHI: A report prepared by the Hyderabad Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) has ascertained the exact number of tigers in the Palamau Tiger Reserve, Jharkhand, to be six.
The report was based on DNA analysis of scat samples collected from inside the reserve area of 1026 sq km, between June 2008 and July 2009.
The samples were from Mahuadhand, Brawagarha, Baresand and Betla areas of the reserve, which are considered a Naxal stronghold.
In fact, the wildlife department had approached CCMB to conduct the DNA analysis after the Wildlife Institute of India did not find any sign of tigers in the survey carried out in 2008. Also there had been no tiger sighting in the reserve since 2007. In this backdrop, the findings of the CCMB have generated hope among the environmentalists that the big cat is not extinct here.
“Three incidents of poaching and six incidents of Naxal violence were reported between 2006 and 2009. The need of the hour is to reclaim the reserve from the hold of poachers and Naxals,” said Ashok Bhagat, who is associated with Van Rakhsha Samiti, Palamau.
23 June 2010
Indian scientists have for the first time obtained evidence for the link between cholesterol-lowering drugs and depression in people taking these drugs to prevent heart attack.
They have found that cholesterol-lowering drug may affect the activity of a brain chemical that controls mood and behavior and thereby trigger anxiety and depression.
Cholesterol, a wax like substance, is the main culprit in heart disease. Although the body needs it, a high level of serum cholesterol causes blockage of coronary arteries thereby reducing blood circulation to the heart muscles leading to heart attack.
A class of drugs called ‘statins’ which lower the cholesterol level — by inhibiting a key enzyme responsible for its biosynthesis in the body – are the highest selling drugs in the global market and in clinical history with an estimated sale of 25 billion USD annually. They are extensively used as oral drugs to treat “hypercholesterolemia.”
Although they are very effective in reducing cholesterol levels in humans, there is a growing concern that chronic use of statins causes depression and anxiety in patients.
“In the last few years, a number of publications in medical journals have reported apparent symptoms of anxiety and major depression in patients upon long-term statin administration,” says Amitabha Chattopadhyay at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad…..